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Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers

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Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers. Julia King Tamang × LERN × TACE 2009 × [email protected] The ultimate stress book. Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers: Stress, Performance & Coping — Robert Sapolsky, PhD Professor of Biological Sciences and Neurology at Stanford University.

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Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers

Julia King Tamang × LERN × TACE 2009 × [email protected]

the ultimate stress book
The ultimate stress book

Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers: Stress, Performance & Coping

—Robert Sapolsky, PhD

Professor of Biological Sciences and Neurology

at Stanford University

homeostasis the ideal state
Homeostasis – the ideal state
  • A systemic balance continually regulated by bodily mechanism
  • When you receive a stressor, it knocks you out of homeostatic balance
7 stress responses designed to save your life
7 stress responses designed to save your life
  • 1. Mobilization of Energy
  • 2. Increased Cardiovascular Tone
  • 3. Suppression of Digestion
  • 4. Suppression of Growth
  • 5. Suppression of Reproduction
  • 6. Suppression of Immune System
  • 7. Sharpening of Cognition

Whether you need it or not!

so how are you still alive
So, how are you still alive?
  • Sapolsky wanted to know, so he ran experiments on rats.
    • The rat, like a human, could recover from a stressor if there was
      • An outlet or support for the irritation experienced
      • A sense of predictability or control
      • A perception that the situation might improve
      • Social support
what else about humans
What else about humans?

The second most important predictor of mortality is degree of social connectedness.

Studies show a threefold difference in life-length for people who have a strong social network.

when we want stress
When we want stress
  • Humans find mild and transient stress stimulating
    • A challenge
    • Tickling
    • A poker game
    • A scary movie
  • Mild stress creates increased dopamine levels—which can be addictive
stress addiction
Stress addiction
  • Enjoyable stress produces dopamine, which is pleasurable
    • But the dopamine levels decrease over time
    • Then, it takes even more stress to create the same pleasurable experience
  • Especially when people feel they are relatively safe
    • Like roller coasters and fun houses at Halloween
the traits of stress hardiness
The traits of stress hardiness
  • You can tell the difference between things that are threatening and things that are neutral
  • You do not feel immediately helpless when threatened – you have a sense of efficacy
the traits of stress hardiness1
The traits of stress hardiness
  • You can tell when you have won or lost – you can tell if an outcome is good or bad
  • You do not tend to mope over loss
the baboon fountain of youth
The baboon fountain of youth
  • Baboons who had these traits outlived their cohort by up to three years
    • Baboons can live for up to 45 years
who ages well
Who ages well?
  • How society treats you helps determine how well you age
    • For example, in Africa, older people show little sign of geriatric depression, as opposed to here, even though their general circumstances are worse
    • But in Africa, elders have a respected and defined role
    • People aspire to this role throughout their lives
    • Elders are neither isolated nor disrespected
which humans cope well
Which humans cope well?
  • Those who have a paradigm to make sense of things
    • Like religion, science, art or philosophy
  • Those who can compartmentalize stress into real, but manageable parts
  • Those who are not in denial do best in the long run
when control helps
When control helps
  • In a study, doctors discovered that patients who had unlimited access to pain medications actually took less
  • Nursing home patients who had plants to care for had fewer emergency needs
  • Having more access to info about what will happen to you creates fewer medical difficulties
so ask yourself is there a lion or not
So ask yourself, “Is there a lion or not?”
  • When you’re stressed, ask
    • Is there danger or not?
    • Can I realistically do anything?
    • If so, what?
    • Can I make sense of this?
    • Do I have control?
    • Can I learn more about this?
a few more tips on stress hardiness
A few more tips on stress hardiness

The Four A’s

  • Avoid the stressor
  • Alter the stressor
  • Adapt to the stressor
  • Accept the stressor
avoid the stressor
Avoid the stressor
  • Learn how to say “no”
  • Avoid people who stress you out
  • Take control of your environment
  • Avoid hot-button topics
  • Pare down your to-do list
alter the situation
Alter the situation
  • Express your feelings, don’t bottle them up.
  • Be willing to compromise.
  • Be more assertive.
  • Manage your time better.
adapt to the stressor
Adapt to the stressor
  • Reframe problems.
  • Look at the big picture.
  • Adjust your standards.
  • Focus on the positive.
accept things you can t change
Accept things you can’t change
  • Don’t try to control the uncontrollable.
  • Look for the upside.
  • Share your feelings.
  • Learn to forgive.
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